"Homegrown" Terror and the Importance of Words

By W.D. Reasoner, December 4, 2012

Last week, The Wall Street Journal broke the story of two brothers, 30-year-old Sheheryar Alam Qazi and 20-year-old Raees Alam Qazi, naturalized United States citizens of Pakistani origin, arrested In Fort Lauderdale by the FBI for plotting to commit terrorist acts involving weapons of mass destruction in the United States.


ABC News senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas used the word "homegrown" to describe the activities on the evening ABC "World News" program. I find that curious and a more than a little troublesome, although it is a phrase that is increasingly in vogue in government, media, and even academic circles.

The home in which the Brothers Qazi grew was not the United States — it was Pakistan, a troubled nuclear state consisting of a toxic brew of corrupt politics, radical Islam, frontier territories that exist beyond the control of the central government, and an intelligence directorate (Inter-Services Intelligence, or "ISI") that has actively fostered militant fundamentalist groups.

This trend toward use of "homegrown" appears to have begun with the administration itself (particularly the Department of Homeland Security), which often refers to the acts and crimes of naturalized individuals such as these two men, particularly where radical Islamist terror is involved, as instances of "domestic" or "homegrown" terrorism. It seems, at least to me, to be a classic instance of misdirection, and a deliberate attempt to re-shape public opinion through use of modern public relations ("spin") techniques.

Why is this attempt at redefinition and repackaging taking place? I suspect there are two reasons:

  1. Admitting that naturalized United States citizens engage in terrorism-related activities disrupts the narrative put forward by the administration and its open-borders allies that unrestricted immigration — even mass, unlawful immigration — is, overall, a benign thing, and that immigration and naturalization processes have little or nothing to do with our nation's security interests. Any intertwining of immigration processes and numbers with national security virtually guarantees that the administration's ambition to achieve "comprehensive immigration reform" (CIR), mostly consisting of a broad-based amnesty, will likely get bogged down, something they are unwilling to accept during the president's second term.

  2. To do so is also to admit that our alien residency- and citizenship-granting processes are still fundamentally flawed more than a decade after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But they are.

This, in a nutshell, is why I oppose CIR, which is often touted as a "fix" to our "broken immigration system". Amnesty fixes nothing, and doesn't constitute real reform. What is more, to evade the fact that existing processes still leave our citizens and communities at risk by obfuscation and creative linguistics is deplorable, and dishonors the memory of all those who died on 9/11.

Words matter. "Homegrown"? I don't think so.